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Shell's ingenious approach to oil shale is pretty slick
Rocky Mountain News ^ | 9/3/05 | Linda Seebach

Posted on 09/03/2005 6:46:32 AM PDT by narby

When oil prices last touched record highs - actually, after adjusting for inflation we're not there yet, but given the effects of Hurricane Katrina, we probably will be soon - politicians' response was more hype than hope. Oil shale in Colorado! Tar sands in Alberta! OPEC be damned!

Remember the Carter-era Synfuels Corp. debacle? It was a response to the '70s energy shortages, closed down in 1985 after accomplishing essentially nothing at great expense, which is pretty much a description of what usually happens when the government tries to take over something that the private sector can do better. Private actors are, after all, spending their own money.

Since 1981, Shell researchers at the company's division of "unconventional resources" have been spending their own money trying to figure out how to get usable energy out of oil shale. Judging by the presentation the Rocky Mountain News heard this week, they think they've got it.

Shell's method, which it calls "in situ conversion," is simplicity itself in concept but exquisitely ingenious in execution. Terry O'Connor, a vice president for external and regulatory affairs at Shell Exploration and Production, explained how it's done (and they have done it, in several test projects):

Drill shafts into the oil-bearing rock. Drop heaters down the shaft. Cook the rock until the hydrocarbons boil off, the lightest and most desirable first. Collect them.

Please note, you don't have to go looking for oil fields when you're brewing your own.

On one small test plot about 20 feet by 35 feet, on land Shell owns, they started heating the rock in early 2004. "Product" - about one-third natural gas, two-thirds light crude - began to appear in September 2004. They turned the heaters off about a month ago, after harvesting about 1,500 barrels of oil.

While we were trying to do the math, O'Connor told us the answers. Upwards of a million barrels an acre, a billion barrels a square mile. And the oil shale formation in the Green River Basin, most of which is in Colorado, covers more than a thousand square miles - the largest fossil fuel deposits in the world.

Wow.

They don't need subsidies; the process should be commercially feasible with world oil prices at $30 a barrel. The energy balance is favorable; under a conservative life-cycle analysis, it should yield 3.5 units of energy for every 1 unit used in production. The process recovers about 10 times as much oil as mining the rock and crushing and cooking it at the surface, and it's a more desirable grade. Reclamation is easier because the only thing that comes to the surface is the oil you want.

And we've hardly gotten to the really ingenious part yet. While the rock is cooking, at about 650 or 750 degrees Fahrenheit, how do you keep the hydrocarbons from contaminating ground water? Why, you build an ice wall around the whole thing. As O'Connor said, it's counterintuitive.

But ice is impermeable to water. So around the perimeter of the productive site, you drill lots more shafts, only 8 to 12 feet apart, put in piping, and pump refrigerants through it. The water in the ground around the shafts freezes, and eventually forms a 20- to 30-foot ice barrier around the site.

Next you take the water out of the ground inside the ice wall, turn up the heat, and then sit back and harvest the oil until it stops coming in useful quantities. When production drops, it falls off rather quickly.

That's an advantage over ordinary wells, which very gradually get less productive as they age.

Then you pump the water back in. (Well, not necessarily the same water, which has moved on to other uses.) It's hot down there so the water flashes into steam, picking up loose chemicals in the process. Collect the steam, strip the gunk out of it, repeat until the water comes out clean. Then you can turn off the heaters and the chillers and move on to the next plot (even saving one or two of the sides of the ice wall, if you want to be thrifty about it).

Most of the best territory for this astonishing process is on land under the control of the Bureau of Land Management. Shell has applied for a research and development lease on 160 acres of BLM land, which could be approved by February. That project would be on a large enough scale so design of a commercial facility could begin.

The 2005 energy bill altered some provisions of the 1920 Minerals Leasing Act that were a deterrent to large-scale development, and also laid out a 30-month timetable for establishing federal regulations governing commercial leasing.

Shell has been deliberately low-key about their R&D, wanting to avoid the hype, and the disappointment, that surrounded the last oil-shale boom. But O'Connor said the results have been sufficiently encouraging they are gradually getting more open. Starting next week, they will be holding public hearings in northwest Colorado.

I'll say it again. Wow.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Editorial; News/Current Events; US: Colorado
KEYWORDS: energy; gasoline; oil; oilshale; shelloil
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This is why global prices will drain back to around $35. The US has THREE TIMES the amount of oil in this oil shale as the entire middle east.

Even better, if we use alternative sources of energy in the extraction process that are either unreliable (wind), or unportable (nuclear), then we've effectively traded energy that can't power your car into one that can.

Another energy source would be large base level electric plants that are very efficient, but can't be "throttled" during low/high usage from day to night, and put the energy in during night hours.

1 posted on 09/03/2005 6:46:33 AM PDT by narby
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To: narby

Pretty interesting. If they scale it up to produce 1-2 million barrels a day every day it could make a big difference.


2 posted on 09/03/2005 6:55:27 AM PDT by NYorkerInHouston
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To: narby

One thousand billion barrels in the Green River Basin alone??? Merde!


3 posted on 09/03/2005 6:57:24 AM PDT by NonValueAdded ("Freedom of speech makes it much easier to spot the idiots." [Jay Lessig, 2/7/2005])
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To: narby

Thank you so much for this post - learned a lot. Thank goodness for the brilliant and common sense minds that went into figuring this out. Fantastic!


4 posted on 09/03/2005 6:57:53 AM PDT by NordP (Keeping America Great - Karl Rove / Jack Bauer in 2008 !)
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To: narby

We consume over 20 million barrels per day. It would take a long time before oil shale can put a serious dent in crude prices.


5 posted on 09/03/2005 6:58:34 AM PDT by tomahawk (Proud to be an enemy of Islam (check out www.prophetofdoom.net))
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To: narby
True as all this is, never fear, the leftist politicians won't allow it to become a reality -- it's a solution to the "energy crisis" but not the answer they want. The only acceptable solutions involve destruction of the capitalist system that they hate to the bottom of their souls - the system that is responsible for the US having become, against all odds, the most affluent society in the history of the world - it must be destroyed, brought down to the level of the most common denominator so that all will be right and "fair" in the world.
6 posted on 09/03/2005 7:00:09 AM PDT by vetsvette (Bring Him Back)
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To: narby

I sincerely HOPE these sorts of schemes DO NOT deflect us from the goal of moving on to the development of alternative energy sources and the internal combustion engine.

File under "Buying Time?"


7 posted on 09/03/2005 7:03:35 AM PDT by Dick Bachert
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To: NordP

What is really needed is for the government to ask for bids on a million barrels of shale oil, promising to buy from the lowest bidder. That will help industry get started producing the stuff big-time.

Lacking that, I'm afraid inertia (or worse) on the part of the big oil companies will stymie the effort.


8 posted on 09/03/2005 7:04:37 AM PDT by CondorFlight
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To: narby

Wonder what they could produce in ANWR with this technology.


9 posted on 09/03/2005 7:07:44 AM PDT by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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To: narby

Wait until the eviro-whackos invent another weed or mouse, found ONLY in the area of this oil shale.


10 posted on 09/03/2005 7:08:20 AM PDT by G Larry (Honor the fallen and the heroes of 9/11 at the Memorial Site.)
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To: narby

Hmmmm. no mention of the Endangered Green River Shale Salamander?


11 posted on 09/03/2005 7:09:16 AM PDT by tet68 ( " We would not die in that man's company, that fears his fellowship to die with us...." Henry V.)
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To: narby

But it will harm to seven toed snail darting owl which lives in burrows above all the shale oil deposits. SNIFF.


12 posted on 09/03/2005 7:10:04 AM PDT by Modok
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To: vetsvette
it must be destroyed, brought down to the level of the most common denominator so that all will be right and "fair" in the world.

I agree that the moronic left wants this. But the least common denominator is rising in most of the world. India and China are becoming economic powerhouses, and as the net and the prosperity that allows travel spreads they will become more free too.

Economically, I think the US will maintain, while the least common denominator will rise to meet us.

Excepting Africa. They don't have the culture to pull themselves up by the boot straps, and will mire around in squalor like New Orleans, until someone decides it's ok to re-colonize again. Perhaps after a couple more centuries of African colonialization it will be able to maintain a first world economy the way South Africa did until the left destroyed apartheid.

13 posted on 09/03/2005 7:10:13 AM PDT by narby (There are Bloggers, and then there are Freepers.)
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To: Dick Bachert
"I sincerely HOPE these sorts of schemes DO NOT deflect us from the goal of moving on to the development of alternative energy sources and the internal combustion engine. "

Agreed, but the usual enviorn-pinko tactic is to absolutely IGNORE any new source as if we already had "alternative energy solutions" available. There is no reason in the world we cannot use what is available and develop better solutions simultaneously other than a political agenda.

14 posted on 09/03/2005 7:10:56 AM PDT by Wurlitzer (I have the biggest organ in my town {;o))
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To: Dick Bachert
This is "alternative energy sources." Why would you want to get rid of the internal combustion engine? It's fairly efficient, and can be fueled by highly-concentrated energy sources.
15 posted on 09/03/2005 7:11:15 AM PDT by B Knotts
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To: tomahawk
But enough dents can make a difference...

Taking the first step will lead to others taking more steps, and soon a difference will be felt.

Praise the Lord we have some ingenious ways to pursue.
16 posted on 09/03/2005 7:12:20 AM PDT by Colonial Warrior ("Carry the battle to them. Don't let them bring it to you. Put them on the defensive.")
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To: Dick Bachert
I sincerely HOPE these sorts of schemes DO NOT deflect us from the goal of moving on to the development of alternative energy sources and the internal combustion engine.

I think you're missing the point: shale oils are an alternative fuel source. As that gets used up, decades from now, the price will rise, and yet further alternatives will be exploited. You would profit from reading "The Doomsday Myth: 10,000 years of economic crisis".

17 posted on 09/03/2005 7:12:22 AM PDT by Shalom Israel (Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.)
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To: narby

What this report does not mention is the amount of hydro-carbons released into the atmosphere in the production of what sounds like a truly massive amount of energy to cook the rock. The enviros will attack this process I'm sure.


18 posted on 09/03/2005 7:15:24 AM PDT by mercy (never again a patsy for Bill Gates - spyware and viri free for over TWO YEARS now)
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To: CondorFlight
What is really needed is for the government to ask for bids on a million barrels of shale oil, promising to buy from the lowest bidder. That will help industry get started producing the stuff big-time.

I suspect that if Shell simply went to some major consumers (say, the airlines or the states) and offered to sell forward this production at somewhere closer to the cost of production rather than the market rate that they could guarantee themselves some business for quite a while.

19 posted on 09/03/2005 7:15:42 AM PDT by snowsislander
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To: Dick Bachert
the goal of moving on to the development of alternative energy sources

Alternative energy sources will come on line when they become economically viable. Which will be when oil becomes more expensive because of scarcity than the alternative.

And when this "more expensive" energy source is required, we will be better able to pay for it, because the entire world is becoming more prosperous.

This is why rushing ahead with alternative energy via government fiat is a stupid idea. Trust the capitalist system. It always works, and government rarely does.

20 posted on 09/03/2005 7:15:58 AM PDT by narby (Democrats are incompetent - just look at New Orleans)
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To: Shalom Israel

Understand your replies.

But the fact is that these are still FINITE energy supplies.

The history of the industrial world has been to find it, use it -- in ever-increasing quantities -- then HOPE you can find MORE of it!

It's a bit like building highways: The statistic is that for every NEW LANE OF HIGHWAY constructed, A FULL LANE AND ONE THIRD OF ADDITIONAL VEHICLES ARE PRODUCED TO ATTEMPT TO USE IT.

We could pave the ENTIRE PLANET and STILL be 30% behind.


21 posted on 09/03/2005 7:17:49 AM PDT by Dick Bachert
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To: narby
" Since 1981, Shell researchers at the company's division of "unconventional resources" have been spending their own money"

Whats wrong with these people </Sarcasm>
22 posted on 09/03/2005 7:18:54 AM PDT by grjr21
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To: mercy
What this report does not mention is the amount of hydro-carbons released into the atmosphere in the production of what sounds like a truly massive amount of energy to cook the rock.

The energy ratio is 3.5/1. We should use nuclear to provide the energy put into the rock. It's cleaner, abundant, and it can't fuel your car while gasoline can.

There's also plenty of wind energy up there too. I don't know if this process requires energy 24/7. But if it doesn't, power it from the wind on top of the shale via wind.

Wind energy is lousy at powering your house (because it quits), and you can't use it in your car either.

23 posted on 09/03/2005 7:20:53 AM PDT by narby (Democrats are incompetent - just look at New Orleans)
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To: mercy
The enviros will attack this process I'm sure.

That is a safe bet. They aren't prejudiced, they attack everything.

24 posted on 09/03/2005 7:21:38 AM PDT by Smokin' Joe (If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.)
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To: Dick Bachert
We could pave the ENTIRE PLANET and STILL be 30% behind.

Now think about that for a minute. Where are the people going to live that drive on the freeways? In their cars?

The statistic only demonstrates that freeways aren't being built as fast as they're needed. Freeways don't breed more people to drive on them.

There are a finite number of people that could possibly drive the cars to fill your freeways, and at some point there are enough lanes to handle them.

This is one of the stupid arguments sold by people who want to build trains and lock people into high density cities because of political agendas. It makes no sense.

25 posted on 09/03/2005 7:26:17 AM PDT by narby (Democrats are incompetent - just look at New Orleans)
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To: CondorFlight
I'm afraid inertia (or worse) on the part of the big oil companies will stymie the effort.
____________________________________________________


lack of profit will stymie the effort. If there's no money in it who will bid? Gov't isn't answer. $4 gal gas prices are.
26 posted on 09/03/2005 7:27:05 AM PDT by photodawg
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To: narby

And the enviros will fight this fanatically, the more so as it shows itself more practical.


27 posted on 09/03/2005 7:27:55 AM PDT by ThanhPhero (di hanh huong den La Vang)
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To: narby

This is nothing new in the oil business--with the exception of the ice barriers.

Back in the late 60s I was developing and writing insurance for what they called 'hot-oil units' in West Texas. These were work-over units in areas where the easy oil had been pumped. They put superheated stuff (glycerin or something that started with a g)down the drillshaft to heat the surrounding rock and slowly accumulate recoverable oil.

The only problem was that the units were subject to fire. It was a costly process at the time, but useful when crude prices were high.


28 posted on 09/03/2005 7:28:50 AM PDT by wildbill
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To: Dick Bachert

Your "alternative" sources of energy will be developed and come on line as they become cheaper/more efficient to use than oil. If the government mandates conversion then the price per btu will make energy a pure luxury that most of can afford in only tiny quantities. What will the enviros and "alternative" folks do as the general population has to commence heating and cooking with wood, at least so long as there are trees to cut?


29 posted on 09/03/2005 7:34:55 AM PDT by ThanhPhero (di hanh huong den La Vang)
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To: Dick Bachert
I sincerely HOPE these sorts of schemes DO NOT deflect us from the goal of moving on to the development of alternative energy sources and the internal combustion engine. File under "Buying Time?"

What's wrong with buying time? It's economical, and it allows us to develop technology. Eventually we'll only have solar, hydro, geothermal, bio, and tidal sources. The holy grail is fusion. But we have enough hydrocarbons and fissionable elements to last us hundreds of years. So we already have a great deal of "alternate" sources available. We should use whatever is most economical as technology progresses.

30 posted on 09/03/2005 7:35:21 AM PDT by Moonman62 (Federal creed: If it moves tax it. If it keeps moving regulate it. If it stops moving subsidize it)
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To: photodawg
$4 gal gas prices are.

I think $2.50 would do it. The problem with this technology is it costs $35/bbl, while the middle east can produce for $4 (yes, they ARE raping us right now). I'm sure Shell's reluctant to pursue this because they could be drowned in Saudi oil at cheap prices at any time.

We need to find a way to stabilize prices and supply, then drain middle east oil until it's scarce enough that it costs them $35/bbl.

I'd go for invading the middle east, taking their oil, and putting their population on food stamps and required birth control. If the left is going to accuse us of such a thing, we may as well really do it.

31 posted on 09/03/2005 7:35:23 AM PDT by narby (Democrats are incompetent - just look at New Orleans)
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To: narby

32 posted on 09/03/2005 7:37:12 AM PDT by StACase
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To: wildbill
Back in the late 60s I was developing and writing insurance for what they called 'hot-oil units' in West Texas.

Interesting. You never know what kind of technical experts you'll find on FR.

33 posted on 09/03/2005 7:37:58 AM PDT by narby (Democrats are incompetent - just look at New Orleans)
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To: mercy
What this report does not mention is the amount of hydro-carbons released into the atmosphere in the production.

I imagine very few hydro-carbons will be released. It appears Shell has created a fractionating tower in situ, and by doing so will capture all the hydro-Cs as they rise.

34 posted on 09/03/2005 7:38:06 AM PDT by scouse
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To: Shalom Israel

this, plus montana's plan to cleanly turn coal into oil (which they claim becomes cost effective in the 30's per barrel too) could eliminate our foreign oil dependence completely over time (10-15 years? maybe quicker?)


35 posted on 09/03/2005 7:44:25 AM PDT by kpp_kpp
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To: Dick Bachert
I understand your comments, but, again, there are NO truly usable alternatives available. Electric/hydrogen power to travel long distances (more than 100 miles), solar, the foolish use of farm land for ethanol, etc - there is no other way to fuel our economy at present. Extracting oil from shale may prove to be a very reasonable way for our economy to become more self-sufficient from the increasingly volatile world energy markets.

The internal combustion engine is NOT, I repeat, is NOT the source of all evil in the universe; it remains the most important way on the planet to allow people to move around freely and at will. One volcanic eruption the size of Mt. St. Helen releases the same amount of pollutants into the air as EVERY AUTOMOBILE EVER BUILT IN THE LAST 100 YEARS.

IMO, ditch the voodoo science...
36 posted on 09/03/2005 7:45:00 AM PDT by Amalie (FREEDOM had NEVER been another word for nothing left to lose...)
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To: narby

Great! Let's get going. Get the Communist Enviromental Protection Agency out of here and shut up those Senators like Mr.Nelson in Fla. They are the enemy within and they have to go before the economy and private industry can get going. This is not Hitler's Germany or Stalin's Russia, This Is America!


37 posted on 09/03/2005 7:45:57 AM PDT by JOE43270 (JOE43270 America voted and said we are One Nation Under God with Liberty and Justice for All.)
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To: Dick Bachert
The history of the industrial world has been to find it, use it -- in ever-increasing quantities -- then HOPE you can find MORE of it! It's a bit like building highways: The statistic is that for every NEW LANE OF HIGHWAY constructed, A FULL LANE AND ONE THIRD OF ADDITIONAL VEHICLES ARE PRODUCED TO ATTEMPT TO USE IT.

You are using government planning to illustrate what you think are problems with freemarket capitalism.

The history of freemarket capitalism is that of the use of a resource until something else can accomplish the job cheaplier(my favorite illegitimate word)then that new approach displaces the old now depleted or too expensive (same thing)resource. A society with freemarket capitalism does not simply use up resources then crash into the wall. It is continually refining uses and developing new ones. That is how competing entrepreneurs survive. It surprises me how many conservatives do not understand this basic concept, this engine that has powered America to the top of the World in 200 years.

38 posted on 09/03/2005 7:46:44 AM PDT by ThanhPhero (di hanh huong den La Vang)
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To: StACase

We are not doing this right now in this country because IT COSTS MORE THAN THE OIL we are buying right now and into the ever rising price future.


39 posted on 09/03/2005 7:50:13 AM PDT by ThanhPhero (di hanh huong den La Vang)
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To: Moonman62

Interesting that you failed to specifically mention NUCLEAR? Still afraid of another TMI (where fewer died than in Teddy's back seat)?

The refinery shortage (thank the NIMBYs and ecofreaks) IS a big part of the problem as well as the wildly diverse local CLEAN AIR regs which require the refiners to produce multiple blends.

The current OIL PRODUCTION level is around 84 million barrels per day. Current world DEMAND is 87 million barrels per day -- and rising (thanks to the Chinese and others swapping their bikes and motorbikes for CARS).

We have at least a 3 million barrel per day shortfall.

The oil being taken from the ground today is from strikes discovered over 30 years ago: Very few NEW oil deposits are being found. ONE oil geologist (I THINK his name is Fox) has raised the prospect that geological forces are producing NEW oil and gas all the time and it is either forming NEW deposits or migrating thru fractures in the rock to the existing fields. That makes some sense but has yet to be confirmed by his peers. Even if true, it's hard to imagine that those replacement stocks can keep up with the growing demand.

What all this means is that we're headed toward ever-higher prices. That's the bad news.

The GOOD NEWS is that those higher prices are pushing us back toward some modicum of ENERGY SANITY where we will have no choice but to get on with NUCLEAR for stationary energy production. The Japanese SAFELY produce most of their power with nukes. Their plants are cookie cutter designs, making it easy to THOROUGHLY train their people in their safe operation. Even our good friends the French produce 80% of their juice with nukes!! And if THEY can do it, we sure as hell can.

One of the reasons electric rates in Georgia have remained some of the lowest in the nation is our half dozen or so NUCLEAR PLANTS. Many OTHER states NOT using nukes have switched from dirtier coal-fired plants to NATURAL GAS (NG)! It is absolutely NUTS to be burning a perfect – and finite -- mobile power fuel for a stationary application!

Even so, many power producers are using PEAKING PLANTS to cope with the summer air-conditioner demand. Those are generally jet engines strapped to a slab and coupled to an AC generator. They come up to speed and on line quickly when demand peaks. Those jet turbines burn FOSSIL FUEL (often NG).

What the move to nukes will do is free up the FOSSIL FUELS we DO have for MOBILE power applications (our vehicles). ANY internal combustion engine can be converted to run on NG or propane once a new tank is installed and (this is WHY the US hasn’t moved on this earlier) a CONSUMER SUPPLY INFRASTRUCTURE (GAS STATIONS!) is in place. NG also burns a hell of a lot cleaner and is easier on an IC engine than gasoline.

A few years ago, it was projected that there was around a 1,000 year supply of NG available under the GULF OF MEXICO at then current consumption. That was in the days when most major generating plants were coal fired. Even so, once we can get the nukes on line, that NG will become available for MOBILE applications. We need to get the nukes on line safely, of course, but 12 to 15 years to permit a new plant is just crazy! The technology proposed in the application is probably OBSOLETE by the time the thing is off the ground, adding countless millions to the project to bring it up with all the retrofits.

The concern about nuclear waste disposal is very real – but it is one we can and will solve. We MUST. If we are to maintain our living standard here, we have no choice. Even my bride – who is VERY vocal with her concerns on this topic – becomes silent when I ask her to imagine the lights going out and the A/C shutting down and remind her that the A/C here is almost certainly coming from a NUCLEAR PLANT up the road! The ladies LOVE their home A/C in August. So do I.

And, not incidentally, these current higher energy prices will put new legs under the quest for ALTERNATIVE fuel sources. We’re learning more and more about the physics of these new systems every day. I’m confident that our grandkids will be sitting behind the wheels of vehicles powered by systems we cannot even envision today. That has been the history of mankind – especially in the West -- throughout history.

And we can tell the Saudis and Venezuelans to DRINK the oil they have left – because we no longer need it!


40 posted on 09/03/2005 7:51:31 AM PDT by Dick Bachert
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To: Dick Bachert
development of alternative energy sources

If "alternative" energy sources were feasible they'd be in use right now courtesy of the private sector. The goobermint has throw billions at laughable wind, solar, and fuel cell energy technologies that are at least 20 years away from operating.

Get the gov't out of subsidizing these unproven technologies and they'll be in use on their own.

41 posted on 09/03/2005 7:53:32 AM PDT by Extremely Extreme Extremist
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To: narby
I don't see anywhere in the article how much energy it takes to heat/cool such large formations. That will really detract from the economic attraction of this process.

Also, and worse, I see a major political impediment. "Most of the best territory for this astonishing process is on land under the control of the Bureau of Land Management", and the author thinks that's a "good thing?" I'd bet my last dollar that the enviros will see to it that public land will never, ever be used to benifit mankind in any way.

This slick idea is DOA.

42 posted on 09/03/2005 7:55:42 AM PDT by Cyber Liberty ( 2005, Ravin' Lunatic since 4/98)
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To: Amalie

Been a user of IC engines for 50+ years and love the freedom they allow. And, yes, I DO understand that the statist utopian idiots would prefer we be totally dependent on PUBLIC transit in order to keep better track of us all. That's why the HATE our automobiles and would, if they could, take them from us.

And no voodoo science from here. Just stark realities, to wit:

The refinery shortage (thank the NIMBYs and ecofreaks) IS a big part of the problem as well as the wildly diverse local CLEAN AIR regs which require the refiners to produce multiple blends.

The current OIL PRODUCTION level is around 84 million barrels per day. Current world DEMAND is 87 million barrels per day -- and rising (thanks to the Chinese and others swapping their bikes and motorbikes for CARS).

We have at least a 3 million barrel per day shortfall.

The oil being taken from the ground today is from strikes discovered over 30 years ago: Very few NEW oil deposits are being found. ONE oil geologist (I THINK his name is Fox) has raised the prospect that geological forces are producing NEW oil and gas all the time and it is either forming NEW deposits or migrating thru fractures in the rock to the existing fields. That makes some sense but has yet to be confirmed by his peers. Even if true, it's hard to imagine that those replacement stocks can keep up with the growing demand.

What all this means is that we're headed toward ever-higher prices. That's the bad news.

The GOOD NEWS is that those higher prices are pushing us back toward some modicum of ENERGY SANITY where we will have no choice but to get on with NUCLEAR for stationary energy production. The Japanese SAFELY produce most of their power with nukes. Their plants are cookie cutter designs, making it easy to THOROUGHLY train their people in their safe operation. Even our good friends the French produce 80% of their juice with nukes!! And if THEY can do it, we sure as hell can.

One of the reasons electric rates in Georgia have remained some of the lowest in the nation is our half dozen or so NUCLEAR PLANTS. Many OTHER states NOT using nukes have switched from dirtier coal-fired plants to NATURAL GAS (NG)! It is absolutely NUTS to be burning a perfect – and finite -- mobile power fuel for a stationary application!

Even so, many power producers are using PEAKING PLANTS to cope with the summer air-conditioner demand. Those are generally jet engines strapped to a slab and coupled to an AC generator. They come up to speed and on line quickly when demand peaks. Those jet turbines burn FOSSIL FUEL (often NG).

What the move to nukes will do is free up the FOSSIL FUELS we DO have for MOBILE power applications (our vehicles). ANY internal combustion engine can be converted to run on NG or propane once a new tank is installed and (this is WHY the US hasn’t moved on this earlier) a CONSUMER SUPPLY INFRASTRUCTURE (GAS STATIONS!) is in place. NG also burns a hell of a lot cleaner and is easier on an IC engine than gasoline.

A few years ago, it was projected that there was around a 1,000 year supply of NG available under the GULF OF MEXICO at then current consumption. That was in the days when most major generating plants were coal fired. Even so, once we can get the nukes on line, that NG will become available for MOBILE applications. We need to get the nukes on line safely, of course, but 12 to 15 years to permit a new plant is just crazy! The technology proposed in the application is probably OBSOLETE by the time the thing is off the ground, adding countless millions to the project to bring it up with all the retrofits.

The concern about nuclear waste disposal is very real – but it is one we can and will solve. We MUST. If we are to maintain our living standard here, we have no choice. Even my bride – who is VERY vocal with her concerns on this topic – becomes silent when I ask her to imagine the lights going out and the A/C shutting down and remind her that the A/C here is almost certainly coming from a NUCLEAR PLANT up the road! The ladies LOVE their home A/C in August. So do I.

And, not incidentally, these current higher energy prices will put new legs under the quest for ALTERNATIVE fuel sources. We’re learning more and more about the physics of these new systems every day. I’m confident that our grandkids will be sitting behind the wheels of vehicles powered by systems we cannot even envision today. That has been the history of mankind – especially in the West -- throughout history.

And we can tell the Saudis and Venezuelans to DRINK the oil they have left – because we no longer need it!

Sorry for the ramble but I really have a burr under by blanket on this one.









43 posted on 09/03/2005 7:57:02 AM PDT by Dick Bachert
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To: Dick Bachert
Interesting that you failed to specifically mention NUCLEAR?

What did you think I meant by fissionable elements?

44 posted on 09/03/2005 7:59:15 AM PDT by Moonman62 (Federal creed: If it moves tax it. If it keeps moving regulate it. If it stops moving subsidize it)
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To: narby

bump


45 posted on 09/03/2005 7:59:59 AM PDT by lowbridge
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To: Dick Bachert
The statistic is that for every NEW LANE OF HIGHWAY constructed, A FULL LANE AND ONE THIRD OF ADDITIONAL VEHICLES ARE PRODUCED TO ATTEMPT TO USE IT.

Let me restate that twisted fact properly:

The statistic is that A FULL LANE AND ONE THIRD OF ADDITIONAL VEHICLES ARE PRODUCED BY PRIVATE INDUSTRY before the GOVERNMENT GETS OFF THEIR LAZY ASSES AND PRODUCE ONE NEW LANE OF HIGHWAY.

IT'S GOING TO TAKE PRIVATE INDUSTRY TO SOLVE THE HIGHWAY PROBLEM TOO! GOVERNMENT IS PART OF THE PROBLEM, NOT PART OF THE SOLUTION.

There, now I feel better.

I've seen and heard that nonsensical pap thrown around before, and never had the chance to correct it.

Thanks for the opportunity.

46 posted on 09/03/2005 8:00:56 AM PDT by Balding_Eagle (God has blessed Republicans with really stupid enemies.)
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To: Moonman62

Sorry dude, missed it.


47 posted on 09/03/2005 8:01:17 AM PDT by Dick Bachert
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To: CondorFlight
Lacking that, I'm afraid inertia (or worse) on the part of the big oil companies will stymie the effort.

Perhaps you didn't read the article. Who is doing the R&D on this? Or perhaps you don't consider Shell Oil a "big oil company."

48 posted on 09/03/2005 8:03:44 AM PDT by hinckley buzzard
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To: CondorFlight
Lacking that, I'm afraid inertia (or worse) on the part of the big oil companies will stymie the effort.

Perhaps you didn't read the article. Who is doing the R&D on this? Or perhaps you don't consider Shell Oil a "big oil company."

49 posted on 09/03/2005 8:03:45 AM PDT by hinckley buzzard
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To: narby

BUMP.


50 posted on 09/03/2005 8:06:41 AM PDT by aculeus (Ceci n'est pas une tag line.)
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